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The Death of the Loyal Customer

One of my classes in management focused on the repeat customer. The course stressed the importance of the repeat customer to the financial welfare of the business. We spent hours discussing ways to turn "first time" buyers into repeat customers. This is not a new concept. We've all heard the term "the customer is always right". And then there is the movie we watch every Christmas where Macy tries to out "customer satisfaction" Gimbel. I prefer to take that concept one step further with what I consider the most valuable asset of a business, the loyal customer.

The loyal customer is one who will buy your product or service even when it is more expensive or at a personal inconvenience. The loyal customer is one who will recommend you to his competitors. The loyal customer is one who will stand up and defend your company against unfair comments. The loyal customer is one who will teach his children to purchase your product or service because they can depend on your company to treat them with fairness and honesty. The businesses of America, large and small, have been built on the backs of the loyal customer.

In his inauguration address, President Bush stated, " as citizens we must uphold the principles of civility, courage, compassion, and character that a civil society demands from each of us". Civility is a word we don't hear much anymore. As companies have merged and as pressure from investors has increased, businesses have lost their civility. The concepts of respect and fair dealing that have been the cornerstones of American business are crumbling.

In the age of the computer and voicemail, companies are ignoring the fact that on the other end of the line is a living breathing person. They will spend millions on advertising to gain a new customer and then banish them to what I term "Customer Service Hell".

Take the case of Denise in New Mexico

"I have been MORE than patient with Dell Computer Corporation. It has taken me 6 months, a minimum of 100 hours of my time, 20 different people, 10 phone calls to service, 5 to the rebate ripoff department, close to 30 mails, several faxes, daily blue screens which switched to daily black blank screens, all three drives not working, still not receiving a confirmed rebate on a machine I ordered in August, 2002, an ordered part I've yet to receive, two individuals saying they will call RIGHT BACK who still haven't called, and problems growing on an EPPurchased machine literally by the day ~ to get THIS upset.

I'm sick of being jerked around by large corporations who make it impossible to reach their corporate offices who are only interested in SALES and could care less about SERVICE."

Then there is my own personal experience with Nextel. My company was spending a substantial amount of money with Nextel and we loved the phones. However, customer service was non-existent. I once spent four hours on the phone with six different "representatives" and was hung up on when I asked to speak to a supervisor.

No answers were received to my faxes or letters. Voice mails to my local salesperson went unanswered. Even the letter from our attorney was never acknowledged. Needless to say we now have another cellphone provider.

These examples point to an alarming trend. Businesses are focusing on gaining new customers and failing miserably to turn these new clients into loyal customers. They have lost their civility, not only with their customers but with their employees as well.

What can you do? If you believe like I do then take these beliefs and make a difference. Acknowledge that the people that you come in contact with are living breathing persons and treat them with goodness and respect. If you can't do that in your present position then its time for you to make a change. As President Bush continued, "Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe In ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves". Let's resurrect the "Miracle on 34th. Street".

About The Author

Wayne Patterson is the author of "Solidgoldmonthly" home business newsletter. Home business news and views that you can use. No scams allowed! Subscribe now to receive FREE book of eBay Marketing Secrets, sold on other sites for $27.00. http://www.solidgoldhomebusiness.com; solidgoldhome@charter.net

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